- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 18, 2001

Tomorrow, Secretary of State Colin Powell will deliver a major speech that is expected to outline the Bush administration's principles on the Middle East "peace process." The speech is widely viewed as a response to the increasingly intense pressure that has been coming from Arab members of the anti-terrorism coalition President Bush assembled in response to the September 11 massacre of nearly 5,000 innocent Americans that was perpetrated by 19 Arabs.
As Mr. Powell crafts his response to the Arab pressure, he would do well to recall his June 3 conversation with Tim Russert, who interviewed the secretary on NBC's "Meet the Press." Citing a dispatch from Kuwait's official news agency issued the previous day in response to a suicide bomber's June 1 attack on a Tel Aviv disco that killed 22 young Israelis, Mr. Russert quoted Kuwait's foreign minister, Sheik Sabah Al-Ahmed, thusly: "The Palestinian suicide bombing was legitimate" because "this is a struggle, and [the] struggle is legitimate." Asked by Mr. Russert if such comments were "helpful," Mr. Powell forcefully replied, "Not helpful. I disagree. There is no rationale, no justification."
The Kuwait Information Office in Washington has claimed that Sheik Sabah's statement was "taken out of context." However, a more realistic interpretation of such a straightforward statement is that Kuwait's foreign minister said what he meant, though he belatedly regretted doing so publicly. In any event, Kuwait has recently embarked upon an extensive public campaign brandishing its anti-terrorism credentials. In full-page advertisements appearing in several newspapers, Kuwait has trumpeted what it claims to be its anti-terrorism policy: "Kuwait stands clearly and in full solidarity with every international effort to eradicate terrorism root and source."
These words are most welcome. But it is deeds that matter. As Mr. Bush noted last week, the United States "appreciate the condolences," but "now is the time for action, now is the time for coalition members to respond in their own way." National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice was even more direct. In explaining why Yasser Arafat would not be meeting with Mr. Bush at the recent U.N. General Assembly confab in New York, Miss Rice said, "You cannot help us with al Qaeda and hug [the Lebanon-based terrorist organization] Hezbollah that's not acceptable or [the Palestinian terrorist group] Hamas," which was responsible for the Tel Aviv disco bombing and an August suicide bombing at a Jerusalem pizzeria that killed 16, including six children.
Kuwait and other Arab members of the coalition, notably Saudi Arabia and Egypt, now have a perfect opportunity to demonstrate their anti-terrorism credentials. If Kuwait is serious about its commitment to eradicate terrorism by its "root and source," let it condemn the actions of Hezbollah, Hamas and organizations that are members of the Palestine Liberation Organization, including Mr. Arafat's Fatah group. After all, as Mr. Bush argued in his speech before the General Assembly, "There is no such thing as a good terrorist." Mr. Bush's crystal-clear statement was a pointed rebuttal to the argument put forward before the General Assembly by a slew of Arab speakers, who unfailingly repeated the Arab consensus that the Hamas-perpetrated disco and pizzeria suicide bombings were not terrorist acts but rather acts of national liberation.
Speaking of Saudi Arabia which, by the way, 15 of September 11's 19 mass murderers called home how does one explain the recent audacious comments of its foreign minister, Prince Saud Faisal? It's worth recalling that Saudi Arabia played the leading role in torpedoing last year's U.S.-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian peace talks at Camp David, where President Clinton invested every ounce of the rather sizable amount of Mideast geopolitical capital he had accumulated over two terms. Exercising their veto power, the Saudis rejected any conceivable compromise involving Jerusalem, insisting that the Palestinians reclaim control over every square millimeter of East Jerusalem's holiest shrines, including the Jewish ones that the Arabs trashed and desecrated between 1948 and 1967, when they last exercised exclusive control. Now comes Prince Saud viciously criticizing the Bush administration for its reluctance to place its head in the "peace process" noose that the Saudis used to strangle his predecessor. Mr. Bush's reluctance "makes a sane man go mad," Prince Saud told the New York Times, incomprehensibly adding, "The thing that is so sad is that what is needed to make peace is very little."
If "very little" was needed to "make peace," then why did Mr. Arafat launch his violent intifada more than a year ago in response to the most far-reaching peace concessions Israel had ever offered? Why did Mr. Arafat refuse to make a counter-offer at Camp David? Why did he release scores of terrorists from the Palestinian Authority's custody so that they could perpetrate the suicide bombings and other murderous attacks yes, terrorist attacks on innocent civilians, including women, teen-agers and children? These are questions Mr. Powell would do well to ponder as he prepares to invest the geopolitical capital of yet another U.S. administration in a Middle East solution.

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